EY: DfE: Current policy of charging parents for funded places

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Mar 22 2024

Please see message below from DfE


We have set out the below to help explain the current policy on charging.

All parents, including disadvantaged families, must have fair access to a free place, which must be delivered completely free of charge. This is set out in paragraph A1.30 of the current statutory guidance and A1.33 of the updated statutory guidance applicable from 1 April 2024.

What is allowed – consumables and additions:

  • Paragraph A1.30 of the statutory guidance is clear that government funding is intended to deliver 15 or 30 hours a week of free, high quality, flexible childcare. It is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables, additional hours or additional services. Providers can charge for meals and snacks as part of a free entitlement place and they can also charge for consumables, such as nappies or sun cream, and for additional services such as trips and specialist tuition.
  • If a parent is unable to pay for consumables or if a parent wishes to provide their own, then the parent and provider can discuss alternative options. This could include allowing parents to supply their own meals or nappies, or waiving or reducing the cost of meals and snacks.
  • As set out in paragraph A1.33 of the guidance, such charges for consumables or additional services should not be made a condition of accessing a free place.

What is not allowed:

  • Providers must not charge parents “top-up” fees (any difference between a provider’s normal charge to parents and the funding they receive from the local authority to deliver free places).
  • Core costs of running a business that delivers government-funded childcare are not consumables used by the child or additional services provided to the child. These include, but are not limited to, insurance, Ofsted registration, maintenance, business rates, training costs, rent and energy bills. These are core costs of running a business and we expect these to be covered by government funding and that parents should not be charged.


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